Richard Hendra ’94 studied economics while attending the TCNJ School of Business, or what was then called Trenton State. Hendra is a senior research associate at MDRC, a nonprofit and nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and a part time instructor for the Doctoral Program for Public Policy at The New School, where he also received a master’s degree in public and urban policy. Hendra has worked for MDRC for nearly twenty years working his way up from technical analyst to the principal investigator role, all while earning his PhD in public and urban policy. After his first ten years at MDRC, Hendra moved to Catalina Marketing, which oversees one of the largest private sector databases in the world. “I learned a lot there about segmentation analysis as well as how data science is done in the private sector, but I decided to return to MDRC because I wanted to focus on public policy,” said Hendra.
Hendra cites his time at the School of Business as critical to his professional development. Obtaining a strong statistical skillset while at TCNJ helped get his foot in the door after graduating. “In particular, I feel that after having studied under Dr. Samanta, I was ready for anything,” said Hendra. “He really challenged me and had a very strong influence on my career. He was tough but I’ve never felt intimated by technical work since. No professor had more impact at the undergraduate or graduate level, and I’ve been fortunate to have had many wonderful professors.”
Richard Hendra’s advice to current students:
Focus more on learning skills than content. Employers will hire you based on skills. In my world that means that one should focus on the ability to work with data, using a statistical programming package, which requires coding such as R or SAS/STATA or Python. Skills, skills, skills. Take hard classes like I did. Learn how to do things.